Writer E. Jean Carroll sues Trump for defamation

Writer E. Jean Carroll sues Trump for defamation
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Writer E. Jean Carroll on Monday filed a lawsuit accusing President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE of defamation in his denials of her allegations that he sexually assaulted her two decades ago.

Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, alleged earlier this year in her new book that Trump lunged at her and raped her in the dressing room of a New York City department store.

"Through express statements and deliberate implications, [Trump] accused Carroll of lying about the rape in order to increase book sales, carry out a political agenda, advance a conspiracy with the Democratic Party, and make money," the lawsuit states. "He also deliberately implied that she had falsely accused other men of rape. For good measure, he insulted her physical appearance."

Trump issued a statement after the allegation was published fiercely denying her claims and asserting that he'd never met Carroll, despite a photo of the two accompanying her book excerpt. In that statement, Trump solicited information from anyone who knew whether Carroll was working with the Democratic Party.

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The president later told The Hill in an exclusive interview that Carroll was "totally lying," adding "she’s not my type."

The White House in a statement on Monday ripped the lawsuit as a money grab by Carroll.

"Let me get this straight – Ms. Carroll is suing the President for defending himself against false allegations?" press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamIvana Trump on Melania as first lady: 'She's very quiet, and she really doesn't go to too many places' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump uses White House as campaign backdrop Coronavirus tests not required for all Melania Trump speech attendees: report MORE said in a statement. "I guess since the book did not make any money she’s trying to get paid another way."

Grisham again denied that the alleged assault described in Carroll's book ever took place.

"The lawsuit is frivolous and the story is a fraud – just like the author," Grisham said.

Carroll, who has served as a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, alleged that she ran into Trump while she was at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996. The two recognized each other and Trump asked her for advice on purchasing a gift for a woman, according to Carroll.

After she suggested buying a handbag or a hat, Carroll claimed that Trump turned his attention to lingerie. The two quipped back and forth that the other should try the clothing on before they eventually made their way to the dressing room, she said.

Once inside, Carroll alleged that Trump lunged at her, pushed her against a wall and kissed her before pulling down her tights.

She wrote that she did not go to the police but told two friends at the time. She added that Bergdorf Goodman confirmed it no longer has tapes from the time of the incident; and that she did not see an attendant near the dressing room despite the store's reputation for being well staffed.

The account of the alleged incident was first published in New York Magazine in June.

Monday's lawsuit alleges that Trump’s subsequent statements have caused Carroll “emotional pain and suffering” as well as harm to her career. The lawsuit claims that the president’s comments “caused Carroll to lose the support and goodwill of many of her readers,” alleging that the writer has received roughly half as many letters for her advice column a year later.

Carroll said in a statement that she had filed the lawsuit to hold Trump accountable "for lying" and "for every woman who’s been pinched, prodded, cornered, felt-up, pushed against a wall, grabbed, groped, assaulted, and has spoken up only to be shamed, demeaned, disgraced, passed over for promotion, fired, and forgotten."

The legal standard for defamation requires the accused party to have knowingly made false and damaging statements. 

The lawsuit adds to a growing pile of legal fights for Trump.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice," filed a defamation suit against the president after he called the women who accused him of sexual misconduct "liars." Zervos alleged that Trump groped and kissed her without consent in 2007. Her case is making its way through the court system.

Democrats are pursuing lawsuits seeking the president's financial documents as well as one alleging Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The New York City district attorney is suing for Trump's tax returns as well.

The president is also in the middle of an increasingly fraught impeachment fight with House Democrats. The House last week voted to codify the rules governing the impeachment inquiry, signaling that the process could move toward public hearings in the coming weeks.

Updated at 11:28 a.m.